I'll start by noting that the 1978 "Halloween" has long been my favorite horror movie, and beyond that, generally, one of my favorite movies of all time. I've followed the development, production, and marketing of this sequel very closely and have been rapt with anticipation to see it, given that the director, cast, and crew have long cooed about the project's return to the simplistic menace and terror of the original. Well, I'm not sure what happened to that vision, but it wasn't actualized. And I'm really perplexed as to why audiences and critics are universally lauding it as the sequel "Halloween" has deserved for the past 40 years. While I'll openly acknowledge that no sequel could probably do justice to John Carpenter's singular mastery, I dare say that "Halloween II" was more tonally consistent with the original (excepting its considerable flaws, including the addition of the bloodline motive and Michael's portrayal as a glacially paced, unkillable bogey), and if we're talking about awaiting a long-overdue Laurie-and-Michael reunion/showdown, I legitimately think "Halloween H20" may have surpassed this film in quality had Michael been outfitted with a less laughable and cringe-worthy mask.
This film's director, David Gordon Green, has sold himself as a lifelong admirer, lover, and devotee of John Carpenter's original, and while glimmers of that fanboydom shine through periodically, if not continually, they do so in the most ham-handed fashion imaginable (as when Laurie's thrown from a second-story balcony, only to disappear from view immediately thereafter, a la the conclusion of the original). I applaud and was nerdily delighted to see that the opening and closing credits were captured in the same orange font as the original's, but that fact is hardly worth praising when weighed against the sheer stupidity of the bombastic opening sequence (featuring the deplorable British podcasters producers) and the lackluster, anticlimactic conclusion.
A lot's been said and reported, too, of this film's significance in its depiction of a female protagonist dealing with the long-term effects of trauma and striving to reclaim her narrative. Fair enough, but that places upon Jamie Lee Curtis the onus of delivering a pretty bare, fierce, and no-holds-barred Laurie Strode performance. And does she? Well, if you've seen the trailers, you've seen the best of it. But JLC can hardly be blamed for the travesty that is hackneyed writing. Perhaps not every traumatized woman would resort to reclusion in a heavily militarized hermitage and restless rumination over and obsession with an event that occurred 40 years earlier. Laurie's struggles with PTSD are every bit the caricature that the ad campaigns suggest, with her booby-trapped home and arsenal of semi-automatic weapons. In point of fact, she feels more like Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor than Laurie Strode, and whether or not that's a desirable transfiguration is, I guess, in the eye of the beholder.
But above all, I think this film's major transgressions are (1) that is isn't in ANY remote way scary, and (2) that it totally fails to capture any of the original film's essence of simplistic creepiness (which was, after all, the entire point and vision behind retconning out the sequel mythology that followed). Lest we forget that, in the original, Michael slit a chick's throat after choking her, stabbed a guy (once), and choked another chick with a telephone cord. Here, he brutally massacres victims in a manner that's totally on-brand for all of the stupid sequels that were so painstakingly left behind: he rips out teeth, decapitates, impales, and bludgeons, much like Rob Zombie's incarnation did. There's nothing simple, sophisticated, or high-brow about anything that's being served here. And while it may be a stretch to categorize any horror movie as "classy," Carpenter's original came damn close to that distinction. The "genre-defying" Green is fundamentally a humorist, and I don't think that he and his retinue, despite their admiration of and purported respect for the source material, were up to the task of producing a sequel worthy of the original (and when you forcibly scrap every intervening entry in the franchise, for better or worse, that's an expectation you set).
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